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94+ Points & Under $30: Italian Red Cellar Value - 08/28/2023 - Italy

V94+: Hidden-Gem, Benchmark Italian Red
2016 Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella Superiore ($26.99)
"This is next-level Valpolicella Superiore, and it may even one day warrant a higher score." — Eric Guido, Vinous

One of the most fastidious growers in the Veneto, Marco Sartori of Roccolo Grassi is at the forefront of the region's resurgence, especially the Valpolicella Superiore category. This exceptional specimen from his main estate vineyard showcases the modern style that's redefining this staunchly traditional category for a wider audience. It certainly boasts all the complexity and intensity that one expects in a finely crafted Valpolicella, but Sartori has also mastered the art of balance in his wines, as evident in their uncommon poise and refinement. Italian connoisseurs should also take note of the "total knockout," 97-point 2016 Roccolo Grassi Amarone della Valpolicella, which ranked right alongside icons Quintarelli and Dal Forno in Vinous' recent report yet comes in at a mere fraction of their prices.

Roccolo Grassi

2016 Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella Superiore

2016 Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella Superiore ($26.99)

94 points Vinous: "An enticing mix of incense, black tea, cracked pepper and red wild berries emanate from the 2016 Valpolicella Superiore. This is undeniably elegant, with its silky textures that seem to coat the entire palate in a seductive layer of violet-tinged fruits and suave lavender and chocolate notes. That said, this is not sweet nor overly rich; in fact, the 2016 is truly harmonious and poised, boasting tremendous concentration thats lifted by saline-infused acids. It leaves the palate completely saturated with cloves and allspice, as it tapers off structured and long. This is next-level Valpolicella Superiore, and it may even one day warrant a higher score. Marco Sartori uses 30% appassimento grapes in his Valpolicella, which are dried for twenty days. The wine is refined in a 50% - 50% mix of large oak cask and barrique, of which only about 20% are new. (EG) 94+" (01/2022)

91 points Decanter: "Earthy and peppery nose with very ripe red and black cherry nuances. Cedary on the palate, soft, with a crisp acidity. (Panel Tasting)" (02/2022)

Philip Roufail | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 27, 2023

If you're looking for a baby Amarone that won't break the bank, this is your wine. The 2016 Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella is drinking beautifully. On the nose, chocolate covered cherries, mocha, orange liqueur, baking spices, flowers, and green peppercorn. On the palate, it is surprisingly delicate and silky, yet with a long rich floral finish bursting with licorice and spice. Quintessentially Italian!

Carlo Delgado | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 27, 2023

Flavors of maraschino cherry, kirsch, savory dried herbs, dried leaves, leather, and menthol. On the palate, developed red fruits, well balanced with the savory dried herbs, and a delicious long finish!

Greg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 25, 2023

Full disclosure, I love this wine and the style it portrays. Valpolicella is one of the examples of a flavor profile that doesnt exist anywhere else. In the hills above Verona this blend of grapes grows nowhere else in the world and exudes both the grape essence and the terroir of these hills. Roccolo Grassi is one of my favorites from the region and they represent wines with classic flavors. On the nose the wine explodes out of the glass, swirls of exotic Marasca cherry layered with salted plum, cinnamon, orange peel and whiffs of lavender. That seems like a lot is going on and youd be correct, yet it all blends seamlessly into a single expression, albeit a complex one. On the palate the wine is supple, smooth with very fine grain tannins. The wine stretches out and shows length, balance while having a impressive palate presence, with weight, viscosity while showing great lift in the finish. A super complex wine, while it doesnt overwhelm you with size, it is delicious, tantalizing and just makes my mouth water writing about it. This is a wine you really need to try, it is absolutely special.